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Hart wins Saugus' Under the Lights Passing Tournament

Posted: June 28, 2014 10:31 p.m.
Updated: June 28, 2014 10:31 p.m.

Saugus receiver Kevin Venger, left, pulls in a pass as he outruns a Trabuco Hills defender at the Saugus Under the Lights Passing Tournament held at Central Park in Saugus on Saturday.

Oh, how little things have changed in the last six months.

An elite collection of 24 prep football teams — four of them from the Foothill League — entered Saugus High School’s 11th annual Under the Lights seven-on-seven football passing tournament at Central Park on Saturday.

Two were left standing at the end of a nearly 11-hour day: Hart and Chaminade, the same two teams that faced off in a state semifinal game back in December.

Though Hart ended up on the short end back then, it ends up emerging as tournament champions six months later with a 17-10 win over the reigning CIF Division II State Bowl champions.

“It’s not really a rematch,” said Hart head coach Mike Herrington with a laugh. “It’s a whole different ball game 11-on-11 than 7-on-7.”

It was a long, hot day under the sunlight on Saturday at the event, which switched from a two-day to a one-day format for the first time this year.

The action began at 9 a.m. and didn’t wrap up until around 8 p.m. following the Hart vs. Chaminade championship game.

The win capped off a perfect 7-0 day for Hart.

Saugus, West Ranch and Golden Valley were also in action on Saturday, though only West Ranch advanced out of pool play and into the championship bracket.

Both Saugus and Golden Valley were coming directly off three-week breaks, while Hart looked very much like a defending CIF-Southern Section Northern Division champion.

Led by its talented skill-position group, namely the senior quarterback-to-wide receiver tandem of Brady White and Trent Irwin, Hart navigated through an impressive field of opponents on Saturday, beating Serra High of Gardena, Dorsey of Los Angeles and Eastside of Lancaster in pool play as well as Vista Murrieta, Camarillo and Alemany in bracket play leading up to the finals.

“We played some pretty good football schools and we ended up on top,” Herrington said.

In addition to White and Irwin, Hart got strong contributions from senior wide receiver/defensive back Isaac Dominguez, sophomore linebacker Charles Ike and senior defensive back Jake Shore.

The scoring format gave teams six points for touchdowns, two for interceptions and one point to a defense that forced a three-and-out.

West Ranch was the only other local team to advance out of its pool and into the championship bracket. The Wildcats wound up 1-4 overall, though, after losing to Notre Dame 28-27 in the first round of bracket play before being eliminated by Serra in the consolation bracket.

In pool play, West Ranch beat Moorpark 34-6 and lost narrowly to Chaminade 36-26 and Santiago 33-28.

“We played some tough teams today,” West Ranch head coach Jan Miller. “I like what I see and we definitely have room for improvement.”

West Ranch is coming into the season with a very young skill position group on offense, with one exception being senior and second-year varsity quarterback Chase Killingsworth.

Miller said there were some promising defensive performances on Saturday, including senior linebacker Jake Antepara and senior defensive back Alek Kehoe.

Saugus and Golden Valley were also in action on Saturday, but neither made it to the main bracket.

Saugus finished the day 3-2 with wins over Trabuco Hills, Dorsey and Golden Valley.

Most of the offensive highlights for Saugus were produced by senior quarterback Chris Hamilton and senior wide receiver Marc Langford, a combination of third-year varsity players who demonstrated impressive chemistry.

“We definitely have some work to do, not so much in the skill set, but in the mental point,” Hamilton said.

Golden Valley ended up 1-4 on the day with its lone win coming against Ventura. It was a tough start to summer practice for Golden Valley, which had to face Southern California powers Westlake, Alemany and Vista Murietta in pool play.

With that being the case, first-year Golden Valley head coach Dan Kelley was looking for effort and improvement on Saturday.

“They’re kids. They’re going to forget the plays, they’re going to forget the coverages,” Kelley said. “You want to see them compete, and they did do that.”

Golden Valley starting quarterback Erik Zarate ran Kelley’s newly installed spread offense with senior wide receiver Nash Soliman and junior wideout Caleb Clarke looking impressive.

Senior linebacker/fullback Isaiah Truchsess was also had a strong showing at the event for Golden Valley.


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